If someone’s negligence caused your family member to get hurt, you may be entitled to money for your loss of consortium.
This article focuses on loss of consortium claims in Florida. Each state has different laws.
What is Loss of Consortium?
Loss of consortium is a term that refers to the loss of benefits of a family relationship due to injuries caused by a tortfeasor.
Who generally makes a loss of consortium claim?
Often times, the spouse who wasn’t physically hurt in the incident makes a loss of consortium claim.
Do you have to be married in order to make a loss of consortium claim from a spouse’s injury?
Is a Spouse Who Makes a Consortium Claim Entitled to Separate “Per Person” Insurance Limits?
No. A spouse cannot recover the “per accident” rather than the “per person” insurance limits under the uninsured motorist (UM) insurance section of their policy. Biondino v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Ins. Co., 319 So. 2d 152 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1975).
The same is true in a claim against bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance. New Amsterdam Casualty Co. v. Hart, 1943, 153 Fla. 840, 16 So.2d 118.
Is a Child Who Makes a Consortium Claim Entitled to Separate “Per Person” Insurance Limits?
Maybe. The law isn’t crystal clear.
The child’s argument is that the per person limits don’t apply to the child’s consortium claim. This is because Florida Statute §768.0415 creates its own independent cause of action for the injury and loss suffered by the child.
The insurance company would likely argue that a spouse cannot recover the “per accident” rather than the “per person” insurance limits under the bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance. New Amsterdam Casualty Co. v. Hart, 1943, 153 Fla. 840, 16 So.2d 118.
They would make the same argument for uninsured motorist (UM) insurance. Biondino v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Ins. Co., 319 So. 2d 152 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1975).
Can a boyfriend or girlfriend make a loss of consortium claim from his or her significant other’s injury?
No. You must be married.
Can a gay (same-sex) spouse make a loss of consortium claim in Florida?
Yes. The US Supreme Court has allowed gay marriage in Florida.
In Florida, can a child make a loss of consortium claim?
A person who, through negligence, causes significant permanent injury to the natural or adoptive parent of an unmarried dependent resulting in a permanent total disability shall be liable to the dependent for damages, including damages for permanent loss of services, comfort, companionship, and society. Fla. Stat. § 768.0415.
Since most parents who are hurt in an accident do not suffer a permanent total disability, children don’t usually have a claim for loss of consortium.
Let’s look at some loss of consortium claims from actual past Florida personal injury cases. Though I have settled several hundred personal injury claims, these cases below aren’t mine unless I specifically say that it is.
Jury Awards Nothing to Husband of Auto Crash Victim
Valerie Audiffred and her husband, Robert Kimmons, sued Thomas Arnold for an automobile collision. In the lawsuit, Audiffred asked for damages for her injuries and for vehicle repairs. Kimmons sued for loss of consortium.
After a jury trial, a verdict was entered against Arnold for $26,055.54 for Audiffred’s past medical expenses. However, the jury did not award anything to Audiffred for permanent damages or to Kimmons for the loss of consortium claim.
The case is Audiffred v. Arnold, Fla: Supreme Court 2015.
Jury Awards Nothing for Wife’s Loss of Consortium from Head-on Crash
A jury did not award a wife any money for loss of consortium after an uninsured motorist hit her husband head-on.
They sued Allstate, the uninsured motorist auto insurer.He claimed that the crash caused:
- herniated discs at C6-C7 (neck) and L4-L5 (lower back)
- a spinal cord contusion (bruise)
- erectile dysfunction
The jury gave him $37,000 for past medical expenses and $194,000 for future medical expenses. The jury found that he suffered a permanent injury and awarded $40,000 and $170,000 in past and future noneconomic damages*, respectively.
He did not make a claim for lost wages or loss of earning capacity.
*Non-economic damages refers to pain, suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.
Again, his wife got nothing for her loss of consortium.
The case was Allstate Insurance Company v. Marotta, 125 So. 3d 956 – Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2013).
Husband Gets $20,800 for Loss of Consortium for Wife’s Fall at Target Store
A lady fell at a Target store in Miami-Dade County, Florida. She claimed that her fall caused 2 broken teeth, a shoulder tear (rotator cuff) and wrist pain.
Her husband was awarded $20,800 for loss of consortium. She was awarded $5,000 for past pain and suffering, $5,000 was for future pain and suffering and $13,615 was awarded for medical expenses.
The verdict was in 2008. The case is Toledo vs. Target.
Court says Husband Gets Loss of Consortium Compensation from Wife’s Fall at Big Lots Store
Gloria de Diaz tripped on part of a display in a Big Lots, Store. She was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and had surgery to fix it.
She filed a personal injury lawsuit against Big Lots. Big Lots defended the lawsuit claiming that Diaz’s injuries were from pre-existing arthritis and/or intervening causes.
An intervening cause is an event that occurs after a tortfeasor’s initial act of negligence and causes injury/harm to a victim.
Her husband made a loss of consortium claim. The jury did not award damages to her husband for loss of consortium.
The appeals court found that undisputed evidence was presented on Mr. Diaz’s loss of consortium claim to require an award of at least nominal damages. Nominal means very small.
The appeals court ordered a new trial on the issue of future compensation as well as Mr. Diaz’s loss of consortium claim. I don’t know whether the case settled or went to trial after this point.
This case is Big Lots Stores, Inc. v. de Diaz, 18 So.3d 1065, 1068 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009).
Spouse Can’t Get Loss of Consortium Compensation in Cruise Accident Claims
In Frango v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., 891 So. 2d 1208 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005), the court ruled in favor of Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD. and dismissed a husband’s claim for loss of consortium.
While the ship was on the high seas, the automatic sliding doors that lead into the ship’s lounge closed on a passenger’s face.
The doors broke her nose and caused other injuries to her face. The Frangos sued RCCL for negligence.
The appeals court said that it was best to follow the majority rule and deny loss of consortium damages to the passenger’s husband, Mr. Frango.
Wife gets $20,000 in loss of consortium for husband’s leg fracture in forklift accident
A wife received $20,000 for loss of consortium. A forklift in a food market hit her husband.
He was a 77-year-old man. As a result of the accident, he broke his leg. Specifically, he fractured the top of his big lower leg bone (tibial plateau). This caused arthritis.
He got $455,000 for the pain and suffering component of his claim. This is a 2003 case.
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